By Guest Author.
England’s drop off the top of the world Test rankings this week was inevitable and, although Andrew Strauss is right to be disappointed, at least their downfall didn’t happen next summer.
Strauss’ men had no answer to South Africa’s superb bowling attack in the third Test at Lord’s, losing by 51 runs to suffer a heavy 2-0 series defeat.
The loss means South Africa leapfrog England to the top of the rankings; the experts page had already predicted this demise after a stuttering summer of English cricket.
Before their three-match series with South Africa, England captain, Strauss, had been adamant their Test rivalry with the Proteas is as fierce as with Australia, dubbing the clash “up there with the Ashes.”
Graeme Smith’s side certainly played with the intensity of an Ashes series but found England woeful and far too easy to pick off.
Strauss himself will be bitterly disappointed with his performances at the crease this summer, with a single innings top score of 37 and a miserable duck at The Oval. His series was summed up with that appalling leave in the twilight of the fourth day that rocked England’s third-Test comeback before it even began.
There is optimism in the air, however, and that comes in the form of time. England now have something to fight for: to retain their place as the best in the world. They have a year to restructure the squad and prepare for the Ashes on home soil next summer.
Australia will come with as much intensity and clinical execution as South Africa have this series, and Strauss must have his team ready for that test when there really is everything to lose.
Next up on the calendar is the limited overs World Cup.
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